The Australian fans leave the funeral of their rugby while the Welshwoman happily sings one of her great victories this Sunday in Lyon. There was no resurrection for the Wallabies seven days after losing their first game to Fiji in 69 years. A double world champion who has played at least the quarterfinals in the previous nine World Cups has every chance of his first elimination in the group stage. With the roar of a massive defeat and the internal chaos of the Malavenida families.
As happened against Fiji, Australia was a collection of errors since the Welsh captain, Jac Morgan, opened the first gap, which ended with the try of Gareth Davies, one of their old rockers. It was the worst start for a team sitting on the couch. With the score against us, anxiety increased and risk increased, the mania for doing more than necessary. Wales knew it, happy to press every move. Even when the Australians threatened, error came. Serve as an example of the serve touch by David Porecki, one of the most reliable throw-ins in the world. With his team eight meters away in rehearsal, he sent the oval into the hands of Morgan and in a flash the Welsh added three more points.
It mattered little that Wales lost their fly half, Dan Biggar, before the opening quarter of an hour. His replacement, Gareth Anscombe, accustomed to shutting down games, improved his performance if possible, punishing the endless cascade of fouls by the Australians with his foot. The dominance of the Dragon XV at half-time clashed with Australian possession: after half an hour, Wales had 101 tackles to the Wallabies’ 25, proof of their wasted dominance.
However, the score still had to be turned back. Until Wales stood in the opponent’s 22, they slept the game with their forward and hit the final slap with a kick chip from Anscombe, with creativity through punishment, which Nick Tompkins caught quickly, faster than the entire Australian defense, in need of stimulants, heading for the try that hopelessly broke the game (26-6). The bench did not renew the Wallabies, victims of their anxiety, of constant error. The only thing Wales had to do is maintain order and redeem the mistakes. And Anscombe had his foot in tune, whether from a set piece or breaking up the run with a drop. The XV of the Dragon did not need to touch the outstanding to round off a supreme beating.
Australia saw in Eddie Jones, hired for five years in January, a long-term solution that has not gone beyond patch. The extensive background of a coach who already knew the Wallabies or South Africa, surprised with Japan in the 2015 World Cup or had led England to the 2019 final to channel the youngest generation of the last 30 years in Australian rugby. But the character of Jones, fired after two years in free fall with the XV de la Rosa, has burned a group that was already frustrated. His verbosity has provoked monumental whistles from his own fans.
The truth is that the leaders of the best recent Australia, the one that reached the 2015 final with Michael Cheika as coach, were two fighting and charismatic forwards like Michael Hooper and David Pocock. Jones dispensed with the first and another talent – sometimes problematic – such as Quade Cooper. The new batches, with physical profiles everywhere, have not created leaders. That is why the Wallabies are experiencing one of the worst moments in their history, after more than two decades without having won the Bledisloe Cup – the tournament they play annually in a double match with New Zealand – and eight years without winning the Rugby Championship, the great tournament of selections from the southern hemisphere. In the absence of saying goodbye to the World Cup against Portugal, they have only won one game so far this year, their World Cup debut against Georgia.
The one that has risen is Wales, after a great year that has gone downhill. After winning the Six Nations in 2021, he only won three games in 2022 – including painful defeats like the one suffered in Cardiff against Georgia – a dynamic that cost his coach, Wayne Pivac, his job. The answer was to put the team in the hands of Warren Gatland, the coach who had achieved four Six Nations in twelve years and two World Cup semi-finals. After saving the furniture against Fiji – they led Fiji by 18 points with 11 minutes remaining and only an error at the hands of the Oceanians prevented the catastrophe –, they ensured their qualification for the quarterfinals and secured first place in the group ahead of being measured in the quarterfinals. with Argentina or Japan.
There, barring a major miracle, Australia will not be there. Fiji needs five points in two theoretically affordable games before Portugal and Georgia to qualify. It would be enough for them to defeat the Georgians on Saturday with a bonus point to certify their second place in their history among the eight best in the world. An aristocracy that says goodbye to the most plebeian Wallabies.
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